The little robots next to their role models – the water striders.
We all know Jesus is said to have walked on water, but these robots can jump on water. That’s right. Maybe in the future, these little robots could perform some miracles, but until now, the laws of physics are pretty clear here. Here’s what you need to know:
An international team of researchers from research centers has thought about mimicking the way in which water striders jump on water. To do this, they recorded very detailed videos of how the striders function, they used a lot of biological data, and then tried to recreate the physical principles that allowed the odd motion to happen.
The team was made up of extremely accomplished scientists. The main co-authors were three. The first, Kyu Jin Cho, is an Associate Professor at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department of the Seoul National University, as well as the director of the university’s Biorobotics Lab. The second, Ho-Young Kim, is a Professor at the same department, director of the Lab for Fluid Mechanics, and also a former visiting scholar at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering of Harvard. Also from Harvard is Robert J. Wood, Ph. D., a core member at Wyss, as well as Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Paulson.
The team worked with other postgrad and grad students from the Seoul University to design micro-robots closely resembling water striders. What they observed what that the curvature of the little insects’ legs was key to them being able to do such a fantastic stunt. As the striders rise, their tiny yet long legs push upon the water, bending in the process up to the point when a spring effect is triggered.
Wood pointed out that the first thing that comes to mind is to push upon the water with as much force as possible, yet this isn’t the case, he says. To be able to achieve lift you have to apply an exact amount of force, a value limited to just under that needed to actually break the surface of the water.
Another key element of the miracle equation is to keep the legs of the robotic bugs in contact with the water for as much as possible. At the precise moment that the spring effect is triggered, the legs need to push themselves so that the lift achieved is maximum.
This whole principle is called torque reversal catapult mechanism and it’s what many insects, including fleas use when lifting. The conclusion of the study is that this discovery could prove useful as it does not require artificial intelligence.
Image source: businessinsider.com